[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Ocean by Ord. No. 1972-16, as amended through Ord. No. 1989-3 (§§ 14A-1 to 14A-9 of the 1972 Ocean Codified Ordinances). Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to conserve the natural resources and to regulate and control the indiscriminate and excessive cutting of trees and shrubs within the Township.
As used in this chapter, the following words shall have the following meanings:
- BUILDING LOT
- A parcel of land upon which a dwelling house has been or may be erected in accordance with Chapter 410, Zoning, or may be erected with a variance.
- DEAD WOOD
- That wood which has ceased to grow and has died of natural causes.
- HARVESTING WOOD
- The removal, cutting, collecting of any wood other than that defined as dead wood.
- The principal owner occupied residence having a maximum of three acres upon which the property owner resides and is cutting and harvesting trees on the property solely for his/her own heating requirements.
- MANAGEMENT PLAN
- A plan for the management of timbered or forested lands developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, or similar state or federal agency, Township Conservation Commission or Township officials.
- NURSERY, GARDEN CENTER, ORCHARD or TREE FARM
- Only land within the municipality used for horticultural purposes under controlled agricultural conditions.
- A license issued by the Conservation Commissioner of the Township to remove or destroy trees or shrubs as defined in this chapter.
- PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
- Any street or road shown upon a map or plan filed in the Ocean County Clerk's office or on the Official Map of the Township.
- SANITARY LANDFILL
- Land used by the municipality or private persons for the disposal of rubbish or garbage as defined in the Sanitary Landfill Chapter.
- Native laurel (Kalmia latifolia) having a root crown of three inches or greater measured at the soil or surface level.
- Any living deciduous tree having a trunk of a diameter greater than five inches, three feet from ground level (deciduous trees regulated under this chapter are all types of maple, oak, birch, gum and willow); any living coniferous tree having a trunk of a diameter greater than five inches, three feet from ground level, or any living dogwood (Cornus florida), or American Holly tree having a diameter of two inches or greater, three feet from ground level.
Editor's Note: So in original.
No person, association, group or corporation is to remove or destroy, or cause to be removed or destroyed any tree or shrub growing in the Township without having first obtained a permit as provided in this chapter. Consideration shall be given when size and species indicates historic and landmark value. Coniferous trees may be removed in areas where deciduous trees predominate, only to the extent necessary to provide existing shade trees room for growth.
Upon application for a building permit for any construction which would cause the removal or destruction in whole or part of any tree or shrub as defined in this chapter, the application shall be accompanied by a plot plan which shall indicate the location of all trees and shrubs on the lot or lots for which such permit is sought. The plot plan shall designate which trees, if any, are to be removed or destroyed. Copies of such plot plan shall be filed by the applicant with the Building Inspector, the Construction Commissioner, engineer and Environmental Commission, if such commission is in existence at the time of application. The Building Inspector, Township Engineer and Environmental Commission shall review same and notify the Conservation Commissioner of their recommendations. Such recommendations shall not be binding upon the Conservation Commissioner. The recommendations shall be forwarded to the Conservation Commissioner within 15 days of the receipt of the application by the Building Inspector, Township Engineer and the Environmental Commission, failing in which the Township Conservation Commissioner may grant or deny a permit without further delay. Upon such approval, the Building Inspector shall issue a building permit as required by law.
Applications for a permit for the removal or destruction of trees or shrubs as defined in this chapter, where a building permit is not immediately involved, shall be made directly to the Conservation Commissioner and shall contain the name of the applicant, location of the property and plot plan as aforesaid, and in addition thereto the purposes for which the application is being made. The following shall be considered legitimate purposes for the removal of a tree or shrub as defined:
Harvesting timber, fire protection, industrial use, private parks, scenic improvement, hardship or danger to adjacent properties, removal of diseased or damaged trees, transplanting or removal in a growing condition to other locations, installation of utilities or drainage of surface water.
The foregoing to be carried out in accordance with an approved forest management plan, taking into consideration that certain trees will be left for scenic beauty.
A of the plot plan shall be filed with the Environmental Commission if the Commission is in existence at the time of the filing of the application, which shall act upon the application within 15 days of the date of receipt, and if the Commission has not acted upon the application within this period, the Conservation Commissioner may grant or deny a permit without further delay.
Prior to the issuance of a permit by the Conservation Commissioner, the lands covered by each application shall be viewed by the Conservation Commissioner or his/her; representative who shall inspect the land as to the trees and shrubs which are the subject of the application, as well as drainage and other physical conditions existing on the property and adjacent property, and the Conservation Commissioner or his/her representative shall issue the permit upon a finding:
That the destruction or removal to be permitted would not impair the growth and development of the remaining trees and shrubs on the property of the applicant or adjacent properties;
Would not cause soil erosion;
Would not impair existing drainage patterns;
Would not lessen property values in the neighborhood;
Would not substantially impair the aesthetic values of the area.
The Conservation Commissioner shall have the authority to affix reasonable conditions to the granting of a permit in conformity with the purposes set forth in this chapter.
There is established the office of Conservation Commissioner, whose duties shall be as indicated in this chapter. The term of office of Conservation Commissioner shall be for a period of one year but, in no event shall his/her term extend more than 14 days beyond December 31 of any calendar year.
No soil material, permanent or temporary, shall be placed within three feet of any trees or shrubs. Where grading may be required, trees shall be walled in an extension tile to the outer crown of the tree.
The following lands or activities shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter: nurseries, garden centers, orchards and tree farms, gardening, sanitary land fill operations licensed by the Township and State of New Jersey, surface mining operations, public rights-of-way, engineers and surveyors engaged in professional activities, and building lots of less than 1/2 acre where an existing home has been fully constructed.
Upon the filing of an application to the Conservation Commissioner, the applicant shall pay $10 to the Township for an application fee, unless the property to be harvested qualifies as a homestead, in which case the application must be submitted but the application fee and all other fees herein will be waived. In addition, if the Conservation Commissioner shall issue a permit for the destruction and/or removal of trees pursuant to the terms of this chapter, an additional permit fee of $10 shall be required. Thereafter, the following fee schedule shall be in effect:
Twenty-five dollars per acre of area harvested. For the purposes of computing such fee, fractions of one acre shall constitute one acre, if the total acreage exceeds one acre. If the total acreage is less than one acre, no additional fee, other than the $10 application fee and $10 permit fee, shall be required.
In the alternative of the permit fee and a fee to be imposed in accordance with the acreage to be harvested, the applicant can submit a management plan prepared by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Forestry, or a similar state or federal agency, or a management plan prepared by a person holding a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry from a recognized institution of higher education, in which event the permit fee of $10 and the acreage fee, $25 per acre, or for part of an acre, will be waived by the Conservation Commissioner.
In addition, no permit fee or harvesting fee, other than the $10 application fee, need be paid for harvesting dead wood if and upon the condition that written permission from the owner of the subject premises be given to the Conservation Commissioner and a copy of such written permission be in the possession of the wood harvester at all times that such person is harvesting the dead wood from the subject premises.
Whenever any application for a permit shall be denied by the Conservation Commissioner, the applicant may appeal the denial to the Township Committee by filing a written notice of appeal with the Township Clerk within 10 days after receiving a written notice of denial of the application. The Township Committee shall hold a public meeting on the matter in accordance with rules or procedures to be established by the Township Committee and may modify or affirm or reverse the decision of the Conservation Commissioner.
All permits to be issued by the Conservation Commissioner pursuant to this chapter, upon condition that the application is in proper form and in accordance with the standards referred to in §§ 373-3 through 373-6, shall be in the form of an original and three copies of the permit, the original of which shall be given to the property owner; one copy to be given to the building department of the Township, and one copy to be kept in the files of the Conservation Commissioner.
All applications for permits shall be made by the property owner, or his/her legal representative. The application shall be valid for one year from the date of issuance.
Any person cutting or harvesting wood pursuant to this chapter, shall have on his/her person a copy of the permit issued by the Conservation Commissioner.
Any and all permits issued by the Conservation Commissioner shall expire, on their own terms, and pursuant to this chapter, 90 days after the issuance thereof. All existing permits outstanding as of the date of the enactment of this chapter shall expire 90 days after publication of this chapter as required by law.
Whenever a violation of the provisions of the chapter occurs, or is alleged to have occurred, any person may file a written complaint, including the Conservation Commissioners, with the Police Department. Such complaint stating fully in the causes and basis thereof shall be filed with the Police Department, with a copy to be filed with the Conservation Commissioner and served on the alleged violator by the Ocean Township Police Department. The Police Department shall properly record this complaint, and ascertain whether a valid permit is in effect. In the case of a violation of this chapter, the Police Department shall immediately take action upon the complaint. Such action shall include, the investigation, the issuance of a summons and the prosecution thereof.
Any person or persons who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall upon conviction thereof be subject to a fine not less than $100 and not more than $1,000, or imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 90 days; or be required to perform community service for a period not exceeding 90 days.